A group of educators, environmentalists and committed residents has banded together in Sherman.

The group recently formed the Friends of Happy Acres.

The Friends hope to organize and guide educational and community programs at the town-owned farm along Route 39 North.

A request for proposals for a tenant farmer to lease the farm has been issued by town officials.

The Friends would like to work hand-in-hand with that farmer.

"A community organization is needed to take some of the burden off of the tenant farmer and town officials," said Colette Schulman, a Friends member. "That's happening successfully in Wilton and Simsbury with town-owned farms."

Kevin Clarke, also a Friends member, teaches in New Fairfield and hopes to use his training in environmentally sound ecosystem management to benefit Happy Acres.

"I attended the Tetons Science School in Teton National Park two years ago," Clarke said. "My role there was to be an educator, providing a stream of students who were connected with environmentally sound farming practices and take them to next-generation science standards in farming."

Clarke sees similar "teachable moments" possible on Happy Acres' 90 acres.

The vision of the Friends of Happy Acres is to maintain the iconic and historic traditions of the 100-year-old farm, while realizing changes would occur there.

Supporting the tenant farmer and assuring the changes are beneficial to both the town and the Candlewood Lake region are their goals.

"There are about 40 acres of prime agricultural land there," said Joanna Wozniak, Friends member and Sherman Conservation Commission member. "We're not under any illusions that we're going to feed the whole town on produce grown at the farm, or that it will be simple to accomplish a CSA."

"But that is what we're hoping to see there," she said.

So-called consumer supported agriculture has become a popular method for farmers to support the production of crops. Community members pay prior to the planting season for membership and receive produce throughout the harvest.

"The fact that there is one CSA in this area that is sold out shows the strong support for another CSA in Sherman," said Bill McCann, another Friends member. "I'd like to focus on supporting the food production aspect of the farm."

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